Fine Time at Filching

The MGCCSE’s Spring Meeting took place at Filching Manor in Sussex, a fine setting for another fun day out with the club. Here John Morgan writes about the event and you can also click a link to find out the results of the Concours and PoO competitions that took place during the day. Pictures are by Dave Linkson and Ron Kemp.

Concours/ PoO MGs in front of the Manor

A Spring Meeting was held this year at Filching Manor and Museum. The event included a Scenic Run, starting just north of Hartfield, along with a Concours d’Elegance and Pride of Ownership competition.

The setting was lovely with the backdrop of the timbered Manor House dated 1450 but in fact, built on top of a lot earlier building. The following provides more background to the venue as published on The British Motor Museum’s website:

‘Filching Manor Motor Museum is part of the Campbell Circuit site. Filching Manor has belonged to the Foulkes Halbard Family for over 35 years and is situated between Wannock and Jevington, near Eastbourne.

The Foulkes Halbard Collection is at Filching Manor Motor Museum. The Foulkes Halbard collection is based around the speed record-breaking Campbell family’s many achievements. Included in the collection is Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird K3 world record-breaking boat, along with other famous Campbell cars, boats and memorabilia.

There are many other rare and wonderful things in the collection, which was originally put together by the late Paul Foulkes Halbard and is now being continued by his son Karl Foulkes Halbard.

The collection contains the very rare 1898 Orient Express (one of only two left working in the world), a 1907 Corbin Racer, several Bugatti cars, Fangio’s very own racing car, the Alesso, a fantastic 1904 chain driven Mercedes racing car and many more. Most of the collection is in working order.’

Dave Linkson’s MGBGT blends well with this Downs cottage at Filching

The event entry attracted close to 50 cars with 24 cars on the scenic run, 3 cars in the Concours and 13 cars in the Pride of Ownership. The Concours and Pride of Ownership cars provided an excellent display in front of the Manor House.  The scenic run was thoroughly enjoyed by the entrants with the route passing through the Ashdown Forest,  through several pretty East Sussex villages and countryside before looping through the South Downs into Filching Manor.

The earliest car was a 1936 MGPB Midget closely followed by a 1939 MGVA Tourer. Other models ranged the full spectrum from the TC through to MGFs and MGZR including a lovely Old English White MG Magnette mkIV. It was also nice to see several Modern Midgets that tend to be in the minority of participating cars in recent times.

The event was made more interesting by Karl Foulkes Halbard giving two short talks, one on the Manor House and its history and the other in the main collection museum buildings. The tours started by showing members round Filching Manor – strictly a twin solar Wealden hall – originally built in 1450 for William Parker. Karl thinks that the front door is original, which makes it one of the oldest front doors in private ownership. The main hall is filled with antique furniture and a collection of arms and armour, including several halberds – Karl assumes that his family name means that they must have been halberdiers at some point in the past.

Blue Bird K3 in one of the collection sheds

The Museum talk mainly centred on the K3 Bluebird, covering in principle the history, how it was acquired, and what had to be done to restore it until it finally returned to the water in 2012 with appearances at Bewl Water, the Henley Regatta and Lake Maggiore in Switzerland where several of the records were originally set. The boat was originally powered by the Rolls Royce R series, as used in the Schneider Trophy record-breaking aircraft, along with a one-off bespoke gearbox and propeller. The drive train was removed and used in the next generation K4 Bluebird. K3 was sold before the war by the Campbell family when the later boats were developed and was used as an attraction for a used car sales showroom before being bought by Thorpe Park. Following its acquisition by Filching Manor, the wooden hull was restored (70% of the original hull remains) and mechanical components were reinstated.   The boat is currently powered by an RR Merlin mated to a suitable gearbox and special fabricated propeller. In recent times, it has achieved speeds up to 59MPH. Karl does have an R series engine but this needs rebuilding after every six hours of use.   

Karl is trying to get the boat running again in the Autumn. Possibly at Bewl Water if an agreement can be reached with the new owners and there would be a possibility of the MGCC being invited to attend.

There is also a go-kart circuit on the Manor’s grounds which is currently unused. The SE Centre is evaluating whether an Autosolo type of event could be staged there.

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